by Rudolf Steiner
Translated from the German by Frank Thomas Smith
Dornach, June 21, 1924
My dear friends,
Today we will also begin with the mantric verse which rings out to human beings from all sides of cosmic events and cosmic beings, if they can truly understand with inner heart and soul what certain cosmic beings and events may tell them.
O man, know thyself!
My dear sisters and brothers, my dear friends, because various Class members have come today who have not been present previously, it will be necessary to say certain things which, only for the sake of coherence, are necessary in order to grasp with full understanding what the content of these Class lessons are meant to be.
We have so far covered, my dear sisters and brothers, how the pictures of life appear before the soul when with real knowledge we approach the abyss which opens between the world in which we live, which surrounds us here, and that world in which we have our true being, our humanity.
We become aware, if we perceive the world around us correctly, how this world demands our intense attention. We look down at the lowest creatures and up at the glowing, sparkling stars in the sky. We look all around at the kingdoms of nature, much of what is derived from them being part of us. And we have every reason to deeply feel in our hearts and souls the sublimity, the cosmic importance and the majesty of all this. And participation in any kind of esoteric, in any spiritual science, should not tempt us to engage in false asceticism – to reject either the lowly worm or the majestic stars because they belong to the visible world – and not feel their greatness, their majesty and sublimity, nor feel the importance they have for us.
As true adherents of spiritual science, we should feel that we are a part of the world around us. But we should also be aware – and we can be aware of it if we put our hearts and souls into the phenomena and beings and events of the world in the right way – we can and should be conscious of the fact that our true highest human self cannot be found in all the kingdoms of nature; that it cannot be found in the sunlit shining world, despite it's grandeur and nobility; that we must seek it in a world separated from our perception by an abyss; and that what is beyond that abyss in the world from which we really originate, appears to us at first as the blackest darkness. It stands like a wall before us, with the abyss in front of it.
The first being we encounter stands at this abyss. Every night when we sleep we find ourselves in the realm to which we belong with the most inner, true being of our humanity; we are really within it, that must be emphasized. But we may only consciously enter this realm in full maturity. The Guardian of the Threshold is there to warn us that we may not enter immaturely. He is the first spiritual being we meet if we have the earnest, real will to look into and to enter the world of our origin.
It is the Guardian of the Threshold himself who speaks the first words to us if we wish to take thepath over the abyss into the realm of spirituality from which we originate. For it is the Guardian of the Threshold who first admonishes us to look back at our own self in order to seek the foundation of cosmic knowledge in self-knowledge.
This is all given in mantric verses for those who have participated in these lessons, and leads to what was put forth in the previous lesson.
Now we to situational meditation: how to see ourselves already on the other side of the abyss, but still under the influence of the Guardian of the Threshold's admonishment, whose words enable us to understand our situation once we have flown over the abyss into the realm which at first is dark to us.
As long as we are here, in the realm in which we did not originate, we have the solidity of the earth under us – which bears and supports us, which we touch with our whole bodies when we are on it – the first, the earth-element.
We contain in us, by what is called “water” in spiritual science, but which entails all liquidity which forms us, which makes us grow, from which all our organs are formed – the second, the water-element. The Guardian of the Threshold's admonishment also refers to this water-element, which is also the blood-element.
Regarding what we inhale through our breathing, the air-element, in regard to what we take in through warmth, through the active fire in us, the Guardian of the Threshold also directs important words to us.
And the cosmic powers act in us, in order that an answer forms in us to what the Guardian of the Threshold is asking. This answer, which the cosmic-powers themselves activate in us, can come from Christ: then it will be the right answer. It can come from Lucifer: then it will be the wrong answer. It can come from Ahriman: then it will again be the wrong answer.
Christ's council will always be shaped in conjunction with each of the elements, so that we may feel ourselves to be completely in the spiritual world, completely in harmony with the spiritual element – but also so that we know that as long as we are earthly beings we must always return over the abyss as earthly beings and that we do not want the characteristics of the spiritual world to claim us longer than our presence in that spiritual world endures.
Christ will always speak to us, counseling: as long as we are in the spiritual world we should be one with this spiritual world; when we come back we should live as real earthly beings, for only with the spirit should we wish to be in the spiritual world.
Lucifer will always spur us on and tempt us to want to stay in the spiritual world, to merge with it, to merge with the feeling of wellbeing of the spiritual world.
Ahriman will always tempt us to enter into his service by dragging the spiritual world over into the physical.
We must let such things resonate in our souls so that we correctly feel the situation of the human being when he faces the spiritual world.
Therefore, let us imagine that we are already in the spiritual world on the other side of the abyss, still in utter darkness. The Guardian of the Threshold is at the abyss, warning us with his right hand extended, asking us questions which cut deeply into our souls. We sense that to each question a threefold answer comes from us: Christ's answer, Lucifer's answer, Ahriman's answer.
The Guardian speaks:
Where is the earth's solidity, which supported
Lucifer in us answers:
The Guardian speaks:
Where is water's forming force, which pervaded you?
Christ in us answers:
Lucifer in us:
Ahriman in us speaks:
The Guardian speaks:
Where is air's energizing power, which awakened you?
Christ in us:
Lucifer in us:
Ahriman in us:
The Guardian speaks:
Where is the fire's cleansing, that enflamed your I?
Christ in us:
Lucifer in us:
Ahriman in us:
We are tested by the Guardian´s questions as to how we will comport ourselves in respect to the earth's firm support, to the formative force of the fluids in us, to the astrality of the creative forces of air in us, to the I-bearing force of fire in us. And Christ answers in us to correctly energize the humanity in us. Lucifer answers temptingly in us, as though we wished to adhere to the beatitude forever, which we should only possess during the moments we give ourselves over to the spirit. And Ahriman answers in us as though we wished to transfer to the realm of earth what we shared in the spirit-land.
We must let what is active in the soul be what is possible for the soul. We must not only expose ourselves to the voice of Christ, but also to those of Lucifer and Ahriman. In meditation we must imagine ourselves in this situation. Then, my dear sisters and brothers, because we are called in the innermost depths of soul, we will be liberated to the extent that, in this liberating spirit-experience, we can really make the spiritual element our own.
Today we must review this situation again. We must strongly feel ourselves on the other side of this threshold of the abyss, the warning Guardian of the Threshold at our side; in us the voices which pull human beings in different directions: Lucifer and Ahriman; the voice of Christ in us, which shows us the right direction, while Lucifer on one side and Ahriman on the other try to lead us into error. Then we will hold to the orientation which makes it possible to make a start in the spiritual world with the right feelings.
We can only achieve this, my dear sisters and brothers, if we gradually acquire the ability to feel about the higher spiritual beings as we do about the three kingdoms of nature here in the world of the senses.
When we stand here in the physical world, we feel outside of us the essence of stone, of the mineral kingdom, and we say: this mineral essence also exists in us. We have salt in us in which the mineral element exists, and which enables us to be human beings within the earthly realm.
We look at the world of plants. We know: we take into ourselves the essence of plants, we have it in our earthly being within the confines of our skin, we bear it in our growth process, in all that forms our organism, also in all that we evolve in sleep. We feel the essence of plants in us as we observe the plants around us.
We look at the animals and know that we bear the essence of animality in our astrality, in our breathing process. We look at the immense variety of animals and say: we feel identified with this animality because we bear it in ourselves. Only we elevate it to the level of humanity.
Thus we find ourselves here in the sensible world standing among the three kingdoms of nature. We must also learn to feel when we are in the spirit-world among its beings with our spiritual-psychical humanity, as we feel when we are here with our etheric-physical humanity among the kingdoms of nature. Just as we must learn to be physical beings among other physical beings, so must we learn to be spirit-soul beings among other spirit-soul beings.
We have learned about the spirit-soul world, which touches us as men in the form of three hierarchies, just as we have learned to know the beings within the three kingdoms of nature. We belong to the three kingdoms of nature with our etheric-physical nature. We belong to the three kingdoms of the hierarchies with our spirit-soul being. When we are here in the sensible world it is natural for us to belong to the three kingdoms of nature and to let them flow through us, to be among them. When we are in the spirit-soul world, it must be natural for us to belong to that world and to the beings of the higher hierarchies for the time we have there, and to realize that we are among these beings of the higher hierarchies, just as we do in respect to the beings of the kingdoms of nature.
The Guardian indicates this to us again. And the mantric words, brought forth from the spiritual world through the magical force of the Guardian's voice, must resound repeatedly, again and again, in our souls in meditation. Then they will have the force, through the simple way they are formulated and the repetitions contained in them, to awaken in our souls the sensation of standing in the spiritual world among the hierarchies.
Therefore, we are to imagine the mantras which the Guardian now speaks in the following way. We are still in darkness on the other side of the threshold in the spiritual world. We first learn to feel in the spiritual world before we learn to see. The Guardian speaks again with respect to the elements – at first earth, water and air; fire will be the subject of the next lesson – So first the Guardian speaks about the earth, water and air elements, about everything in us which is solid; everything that is fluid in us, especially our blood and tissue fluids; about everything in us which is airy, the inhaled air. The Guardian speaks about all that. And he calls out what resounds from the world of the hierarchies.
After the Guardian has spoken to us, the hierarchies speak one after the other. The third hierarchy with the first mantra: first the Angeloi, then Archangeloi, and thirdly the Archai. We feel ourselves to be in this situation. The Guardian of the Threshold speaks to us. The words resound from out of the darkness, as if they came from under the earth, yet resounding deeply in our souls.
The Guardian speaks:
What becomes of the earth's solidity, which supported
The Angeloi from the third hierarchy:
The Archangeloi from the third hierarchy:
The Archai from the third hierarchy:
From the cosmos we are receiving an important threefold teaching about the Guardian of the Threshold's questions. His words call forth the answers from the Angeloi, the Archangeloi and the Archai with magical force.
What do the Angeloi teach us? We humans think. At first we believe that we are experiencing our thoughts alone. But as our thoughts are passing through our minds, the Angeloi really live in them. And when we feel with our senses – as when we grasp something – the Angeloi live in our thinking; it is their feeling. They bring it to our consciousness. And just as the Angeloi feel in our thinking, the Archangeloi experience in our feeling, and the Archai perceive in our willing.
When a thought is passing through your minds, my dear sisters and brothers, then feel that in this thought a being from the hierarchy of the Angeloi feels something. The Angeloi touch something when you think. When you are feeling, a being from the hierarchy of the Archangeloi experiences something. When you are willing, while your willing is unfolding, a being from the hierarchy of the Archai perceives something. Human thinking, human feeling, human willing, are not mere processes in humanity. While we are thinking, the Angeloi are feeling; while we are feeling, the Archangeloi are experiencing; while we are willing, the Archai are perceiving.
[The first part of the mantra is written on the blackboard – always in italics.]
What becomes of the earth's solidity, which supported you?
From the hierarchy of the Angeloi [the answer] resounds:
From the hierarchy of the Archangeloi resounds:
From the hierarchy of the Archai resounds:
This is what replaces the earth-element in the spiritual world. For the solidity of the earth is not there. The earth's ground is gone. Everything solid is gone. The third hierarchy of Angeloi, Archangeloi, Archai do not create solidity the way minerals do. In our thinking we would not only sink downward but to all directions if the Angeloi did not act in it, if it did not have their feeling in it. We would be thrown formlessly in all directions if the Archangeloi did not live in our feeling. We would disappear into nothingness in our willing if we did not have the Archai's strengthof perception in this willing.
Second is water, which provides us with formative force: the liquid element in us. Again we image that we are standing beyond the abyss in the spiritual world still in darkness. First we learn feeling. The Guardian speaks in admonishment, questioning. But now the beings of the second hierarchy, the Exusiai, Dynamis, Kyriotetes, answer about the force of fluids, the element of water.
The Guardian speaks:
What becomes of water's formative force, which pervaded you?
From the second hierarchy the Exusiai answer:
The Dynamis of the second hierarchy:
The Kyriotetes of the second hierarchy:
By this means we become aware that in our surroundings we do not stand alone. We should learn to feel that in the physical existence within the boundaries of our skin lives a portion of cosmic being. The second hierarchy is in us, acts in us as though we were cosmic beings, beings which belong as members to the cosmos.
By means of these mantras, we should become aware that we stand within the cosmic process, and that everything, from the most minute vibrations of our cells to the powerful, sublime wave movement of our blood, to the rhythm of our breathing system, to the rhythm that allows day to change into night, that it is all not only a process in us, but is also part of the cosmic process.
[The second part of the mantra is written on the blackboard.]
What becomes of the water's formative force, which pervaded you?
The Exusiai from the second hierarchy answer:
The Dynamis from the second hierarchy answer:
The Kyriotetes from the second hierarchy answer:
An exactness exists in these mantric verses. Therefore, the question may arise: Why do we have here “body's-being” in contrast to “cosmic process”? We must feel each word exactly if a mantric verse is to work correctly in our souls. Outside of us the cosmic process carries on, in that we feel it to be a process. This cosmic-process is everywhere expanding, filling the universe. –
– In that it continues in us, is in us, we feel it to be a closed entity because we are enclosed within our skin and feel ourselves to be complete and enclosed. We do not feel everything within us as weaving, waving and undulating, as we do outside us. Therefore, “process” and “being” are in contrast, whereas the repetitions “creation” “creation” and “life” “life” [in the previous lines] are correct.
In respect to the air-element, the Guardian of the Threshold raises his questions. The beings of the first hierarchy – Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim – answer. They admonish us that we should be conscious of how the cosmos works in us. From merely being conscious, the beings of the first hierarchy lead us to being self-conscious.
The Guardian speaks:
What becomes of air's stimulating force, which awakened you?
The Thrones answer from the first hierarchy:
The Cherubim answer from the first hierarchy:
The Seraphim answer from the first hierarchy:
Now we are exhorted to waken self-consciousness at a higher level, in that we have felt our merging in the cosmos, our dedication to the cosmos, through the magical words of the second hierarchy.
[The third part of the mantra is written on the blackboard.]
What becomes of the air's stimulating force, which awakened you?
The cosmic answer resounds from the first hierarchy:
Yes, my dear sisters and brothers, if we do not feel the effect of this last mantra, how it resounds from the fiery, lightning-strong Seraphim: “Awaken within inner-light in your divine-cosmic-light”, how these fiery words resound from the flaming lightning of the Seraphim, we will not sense how a force must awaken in our own souls with which, where we are standing in darkness beyond the abyss, still trying to orient ourselves, we feel the universe gradually approaching us – so that by and by a glimmer emerges, then becoming lighter, a continual expansion of the glimmer in space. And as the glimmer grows more glowing and shining, and through our own power the night-enveloped darkness beyond in the spiritual world gradually gets lighter. That is how it must be. We must try to develop the kindling force of our own selves, the kindling fiery force of our own humanity – for it is light in what was at first a night-enveloped spiritual land.
Thus we feel integrated in that threefold spirit-world of the Angeloi, Exusiai, Thrones and so forth, just as we feel integrated here in the sensible world of the three kingdoms of nature. And we learn as truly human to feel at home in spiritual surroundings just as sense-perceptible beings we feel at home in sense-perceptible surroundings. We learn as we ascend from the third hierarchy – who unfold the spirit in us, our own spirit, in which they live – to the second hierarchy, who develop the spirit in us, creating, living, shaping; and finally to the first hierarchy, where we again have support, but support of spirit, which is above and not below, where we have the mighty wisdom of the Cherubim who bring to our self-consciousness what can warm our inner life with self-knowledge, self-feeling, self-warming – and this warmed self becomes the shining-element, so that what was previously dark for us becomes light.
Thus we are standing at the Guardian of the Threshold's side deeply feeling that admonition which resounds from all the cosmic beings, from all the cosmic events, so that we can gain, from self-knowledge, cosmic-knowledge, and from cosmic-knowledge, human-knowledge, so that we can stand in the realm of nature, but also in the realm of spirit, and realize our Self from both sides of reality: from the side of nature and from the side of the spirit.
Then a new form resounds – not different in words, but in our feeling, strengthened by the admonishments from all the hierarchies of the spiritual world, from which we originated.
O man, know thyself!
|Last Modified: 31-Mar-2020||
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